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GP colonoscopy screening ‘prevents 80% of cancers’

By Christian Duffin

Colonoscopy screening in primary care reduces the risk of presenting with colon cancer by up to 84%, say researchers.

German researchers looked at 1,688 colorectal patients and 1,932 control participants aged 55 or older who had undergone colonoscopy in the previous 10 years.

They found the overall risk for any colorectal cancer was cut by 77%, compared with controls, with a larger reduction in the risk for left-sided colorectal cancers (84%) compared with right-sided colorectal cancers (56%).

Colonoscopy has been offered in Germany as a primary screening tool for patients aged 55 and over since 2002, however the team - led by Dr Hermann Brenner from the German Cancer Research Centre in Heidelberg – cautioned that the risk reduction among patients aged under 60 was only modest (26%), and statistically non-significant.

In an accompanying editorial, Dr David Weinberg, chair of the department of medicine at Fox Chase Cancer Center, USA, said the study provides reassurance that colonoscopy is effective.

‘It is unrealistic to expect that colonoscopy to prevent all cases of colorectal cancer -physicians need to inform patients that colonoscopy offers very good, but not perfect, protection,' he said.

The research is published in the January 4 edition of the Annals of Internal Medicine.


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